winter olympics 2018

This 15-Year-Old Olympian Took the Whole World to the Russian Ballet With Record-breaking Black Swan Skate

The most nail-biting story of this Winter Olympics features two teenage girls from Russia: 18-year-old Evgenia Medvedeva, the greatest female figure skater on the planet currently competing, and 15-year-old Alina Zagitova, the teammate who’s come to usurp her throne. For the last two years on the senior international level, it’s been Evgenia and no one else. But that was until Alina exploded onto the scene and became the only skater to beat her, unseating Evgenia’s gold at the European Championship earlier this year. They share the same coach, they share the same flair for high-stakes drama, and during Tuesday night’s Olympics short program, they shared the same stage.

Evgenia went first, skating to a program whose theme is just some light clinical death (hey, she’s Russian) and set yet another new world record. Then came Alina, who knew no Russian showdown could be complete without a little Tchaikovsky: Skating to music from the film Black Swan (and Moonlight) in a literal tutu, our Swan Queen landed the most difficult jumping combination attempted of any woman in the field in either program (the triple Lutz–triple loop). She went on to eclipse the world record set minutes earlier by her rival, earning an astounding 82.92 for first place going into Thursday’s free skate. Watch a clip from her masterful skate above and the full program over on NBC.

Watch Alina Zagitova’s Record-breaking Olympic Short Program